Category Archives: Newsletter

Any post that is intended to edn up in the bi-monthly news letter

Reception in the Garden Recap

Over forty members gathered for our first ever Reception in the Garden.  This reception offered members an opportunity to meet, mingle, and network with other members and executive board members while enjoying wonderful hors d’oeuvres and refreshments.

Members discussed APA topics of interest such as educational assistance, MSU retirement benefits, new member lunches, More You Know lunch opportunities, as well as other community based events.  If you would like more information on  continuing your involvement as an APA member, or would like to participate in the APA Area Representative training program, please let us know by reaching us at

APA Reaches a Successor Contract Through September 30, 2019

On Thursday, September 24, 2015, contract negotiations concluded when the APA reached a tentative agreement with the administration of Michigan State University for a successor APA contract valid through September 30, 2019. As with most collective bargaining, neither management nor labor obtained everything sought at the commencement of negotiations.

Responding to the information and data from APA membership surveys ( and input provided through member engagement events, emails, and phone calls, the APA Bargaining Team entered negotiations with proposals on nearly 30 different contractual items.

A brief recap is as follows:

The APA was successful in fighting off University proposals on topics such as:

  • Attacks on job security
  • Total elimination of current Longevity Pay program
  • Harmful changes to the evaluation process
  • Increasing merit pay to 100% of your annual base wage increase which could prevent members from receiving any base wage increase any year at the exclusive discretion of your immediate supervisor/department

The APA is proud to have negotiated:

  • Greater protections from discrimination in the workplace
  • Maternity/Paternity leave planning enhancement through increased vacation maximum accrual rates for new employees
  • Increase of maximum accrued sick leave bank to 1,400 hours
  • Maintained fully funded Aetna DMO dental coverage (no changes to Delta Dental plan)
  • Improved professional development to allow for use of annual $800 for off campus and college credit bearing courses
  • Enhanced job security for all members and additional rights for off-date employees who are subject to layoff
  • Maintained current 40% across the board and 60% merit pay process for annual base wage increases unless the total base wage increase is 1% or less in which case the annual base wage increase will be applied 100% across the board
  • Protected 403(b) retirement fund contributions for employees who began at MSU on or after July 1, 2010 who are no longer eligible for post retirement health care benefits

Additionally, your APA Bargaining Team pursued key issues members brought to attention:

  • Paid paternity/maternity leave and short term disability benefits
  • Improved dental coverage
  • Additional objective criteria to determine the merit portion of the annual APA base wage increase
  • Parking rate equity for members working at the MSU Secchia Center

After notice of the tentative agreement was provided to the APA membership, information sessions were held on campus in East Lansing, as well as at the CHM Grand Rapids. Members who attended delved into the issues and had productive dialogue.

Balloting for the 2015 – 2019 APA Tentative Agreement ratification concluded on October 13, 2015, at 4pm.

In total, 702 members cast a ballot.  639 (91%) cast a ballot in favor of ratification with 63 (9%) in opposition.  Therefore, the contract was officially ratified by the APA membership.

As soon as possible, the ratified contract will be printed and copies made available to APA members. Additionally, an electronic version will be posted on the APA website.

The APA greatly appreciates the comments that were provided leading into and during negotiations and membership questions and engagement around the tentative agreement ratification.

For further information or to ask questions, please contact the APA at or at 517.999.4004.

Documenting Professional Excellence: Evaluations

by Melissa Sortman, MEA Uniserv Director

The University is prioritizing professional excellence and part of the focus is on the evaluation process of employees. APA leadership has been meeting with MSU Human Resources regarding potential changes to the evaluation forms and the evaluation process. APA will be meeting with the University to discuss the impact of any changes on the membership.

The performance evaluation process should be valuable time used to get constructive feedback from your supervisor that reflects a review of the last year, but also lay out a plan for the following year. It may also be an opportunity for you to set goals. This may include the criteria for the merit portion of the bargained raise received each October.

APA provides trainings for members to assist in the preparation for the evaluation, discussion of how to request an off-cycle raise and ways to use professional development to support your career plans. Monthly notice is sent out to sign up for More You Know trainings.

Contractually, the performance evaluation review should be done annually, according to Article 12 Clause 101 of the MSU APA Master Agreement. If an employee is having performance issues, more frequent evaluations are allowed. The Performance Evaluation Form is a standard form and can be found on the Human Resources website:

The formal evaluation form is one of the few documents that may be placed in an employee’s official personnel folder. In addition, an employee may add additional comments regarding the evaluation to be placed in the personnel file. You have a right to know what is placed in your personnel file which is governed by the Bullard Plawecki Employee Right to Know Act (link)

Many members would like the supervisor feedback and recognition of work performance. You may request to schedule your evaluation. If you are not evaluated, there is a presumption of satisfactory work. The University is making it a priority to have annual evaluations.

If members receive an unsatisfactory evaluation and/or placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), you should notify the APA office at or call the office at 517.999.4004. If you contact your union, it will be kept confidential.

If placed on an Improvement Plan, you will typically have monthly meetings with your supervisor with a revaluation within ninety days from the date of being placed on the PIP. The union representative can assist you in many ways through the process. The APA representative can, at the member request, call a conference with the evaluator prior to the ninety day evaluation. This meeting can be useful to facilitate problem solving path versus a punitive one.

Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance, the MSU APA office is (517) 999-4004.


Employee Self Review Worksheet:

Being Part of a Strong Union on Campus

by Maury Koffman, APA President

What is MSU-APA?

Our membership is comprised of a wide array of professionals with more than 300 job classifications performing some of the most vital supporting roles at MSU. The Administrative Professional Association (APA) has more than 2,400 members, making it the largest union group on campus.

As a professional, why do I need a union?

Everyone has a need for fair wages, quality health care and decent working conditions. MSU-APA negotiates those important issues so that they are provided fairly and consistently across campus to every APA member.

The biggest difference between a unionized workplace and a non-unionized workplace is the difference between being employed at will versus with just cause.

An at will employee has no job protections and can be disciplined up to and including discharge for no reason.

An employee with union representation is afforded just cause and due process that are contractually guaranteed and enforced which mandates discipline be based on just, equitable and reasonable actions. The University cannot be arbitrary or inconsistent in the procedures or discipline itself. Discipline should be with the desire of improving performance and correcting behavior. Therefore, a standard of progressive discipline is also a part of a unionized workplace with a verbal warning, a written warning, a suspension and then termination being the typical escalation of discipline.

What do I get for my union dues?

As an APA union member you have the right and protections of being represented by the MEA/NEA in many different ways including:

  • Negotiating with the University for fair compensation, benefits, working conditions, education development, and other plans and programs.
  • Participating as a member organization in the MSU Coalition of Labor Organizations to pool resources, lower costs, and increase coverage to MSU employees.
  • Assisting you in navigating the world of MSU support staff policies, practices, and how they align with your daily life and your contract.
  • Connecting you with pertinent information regarding administrative and legislative actions that affect you and your family, your colleagues, and MSU.
  • Advocating for you at every level of MSU and state and federal government.
  • Defending your contractual and legal rights as a member of the APA.
  • Linking you with MEA resources and programs such as MEA Financial Services and others found at
  • Access to professional development, experts, and resources to enhance your daily work life and experience at MSU.
  • Creating communities of colleagues to educate and assist you in building a better career and connection within the MSU community.

Where do my dues go? 

The majority of your dues go to support contract bargaining, advocacy and enforcement of your contract. It provides for the legal representation for each member and for the union collectively.

The local APA budget supports local member engagement activities and the governance structure of MSU-APA.

The balance of the dues is decided by a democratic process at the regional, state and national level. The Michigan Education Association (MEA) and National Education Association (NEA) are both member driven organizations with members representing their constituencies at all decision-making levels.

How do I get more information about APA?

  • Visit
  • Call the APA office at 517-999-4004
  • Email if you would like to get more involved with APA

APA Health Care Coverage in Light of the SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

by Maury Koffman, APA President

MSU Human Resources is working to change its systems in light of the Supreme Court’s June 26, 2015 ruling on same-sex marriage.

For marriages occurring on or after June 26, 2015, once the HR/Payroll system is changed, employees who have submitted a marriage license for their same-sex spouse and an enrollment form will receive a confirmation email from Human Resources that their spouse has been added to their health benefits. All coverage will become effective on the date of the marriage. Employees have 30 days from the date of marriage to submit a marriage license in order to add a spouse to their benefit plans.

Employees who were married prior to June 26, 2015, and whose spouse is not already covered under their MSU health plan, may add their spouse during the October Benefits Open Enrollment period for coverage effective January 1, 2016.

Employees whose spouse is already covered by their MSU health plan will no longer have imputed income as of their July paycheck.  The Payroll Office is working to adjust imputed income retroactive to January, however, the adjustment may occur over more than one paycheck.

All questions may be directed to the HR Solutions Center at 517-353-4434 or via email at

APA Questions From The Trenches

2015 Bargaining Update

Who represents all APA members at the bargaining table?

Per Article VII of the APA Constitution and Bylaws, the APA must begin preparations to negotiate a successor agreement by naming our Negotiations Committee in January of the year our current contract is set to expire. Accordingly, roughly 30 members comprising a cross section of the membership were appointed to serve on the APA 2015 Negotiations Committee in January 2015.

Additionally, a group of seven members and two alternates from the Negotiations Committee have been appointed to serve as the 2015 Bargaining Team, the body of individuals that sit at the table to negotiate a successor contract.

Will wages and health care be part of the 2015 negotiations?

No. The APA negotiates our wage and health care as part of a joint coalition of campus support staff unions. That agreement – lead by APA UniServ Director Melissa Sortman as the chief negotiator – was bargained in 2013. The union is proud to have fought off a high deductible health care plan and also secured eligible annual wage increases each year 2015 – 2018. Fully funded health care, annual wage increases, lump sum bonuses, 2-1 match on member’s 403(b) and other benefits we all enjoy would not be possible without a strong and properly resourced union.


What topics or items can be bargained during the APA 2015 negotiations?

All other elements – except base wage and health care – that are regarded as a member’s wages, hours, and conditions of employment may be elements bargained at the table such as sick time, educational assistance, notice requirements, and pro forma functions of the APA contract.


How can members provide input?

Several APA member forums have already been held around campus including our Community and Regional Luncheons as well as other member meetings. Additionally, the entire membership was recently sent an online survey soliciting member input. More member input sessions and venues are being scheduled and members can directly email their input to


What happens when a tentative agreement is reached at the bargaining table?

Once a tentative agreement is reached between the APA and University bargaining teams, the full tentative agreement will be communicated with the APA membership. Member forums will be scheduled so members can ask questions to better inform their vote. Ultimately, the tentative agreement and change in contract language will be presented to the APA membership for an electronic vote. A majority of voters must vote in the affirmative to ratify the tentative agreement before the document officially becomes our successor contract.


What are the next steps?

Be sure to watch for official APA ListServ messages, attend APA campus meetings, and read our bargaining communications to stay updated during the 2015 bargaining cycle.



Know Your Rights – Benefits of Union Membership

by Melissa Sortman, MEA Uniserv Director

Why should I be in the union?
The answer depends on what matters most to you regarding your employment.

A majority of members say wages and benefits matter most. On that front, the wages of APA members steadily increase each year. The bargained wage increase for 2014 was 2% and this October will be 2.5%. The next three years will be a range of 2.6% to 1% depending on the increase of the health care spend (if the health care spend is an unprecedented increase above 11%, there could be a wage freeze).

The health care benefits will be fully-funded through December 31, 2017. There will be no premium share for the duration of the Wage and Health Care Memorandum of Understanding. The non-unionized tenure track faculty and academic specialists pay a monthly health care premium for the same health care coverage bargained by APA. There is a difference and it is financial.

All other benefits and working conditions are bargained and enforceable in the union contract. The beneficial retirement plan with a 2-to-1 match is a bargained benefit. Working conditions such as paid leave time, educational assistance, course fee courtesy and basic rules governing the work environment are contractual.

Why would a professional want to be a union member?
APA members are professionals who may question the need for a union environment, but every employee deserves job security, financial security and equitable treatment. APA is a professional union and provides educational opportunities to maximize contractual provisions, access benefits and advises employees on employment law and rights in the workplace.

MSU is a great place to work but it is still an employer and not a benevolent charity. Employees need advocacy and collectivism to balance the power such a large employer wields.

Why does an employee of MSU need to be a union member?
MSU is technically a state agency and has the complexity of a $2 billion organization. Union membership provides a legal avenue to deal with basic employment issues and have an advocate whose purpose is to provide equitable treatment and navigation of the MSU bureaucracy. Strength does come in numbers. One voice of one employee on campus can fall on deaf ears, but a representative of the union has legal access to information and to problem-solving for individual members and the collective whole.

Why be a member of APA/MEA/NEA?
The employment safety net of the union is not just the contract. The contract is the framework to deal with specific contractual issues. The MEA Legal Representation policy only covers members in good-standing. The Legal Representation Policy covers all employment law that includes FMLA, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Wage and Hour Laws and all other employment laws. A law that a member does not have the financial resources to enforce, is not a protection.

Additionally, only full members are eligible for significant home and auto insurance discounts though MEA Financial Services, member benefits, a free life insurance policy, and $1 million liability insurance for all matters that occur related to performing the duties of your campus employment position.


APA is the largest union on campus, representing more than 2,400 members employed in more than 300 positions.


MEA is the largest union in Michigan, representing k-12 and higher ed units across the state of Michigan including CMU, Ferris State, Saginaw Valley, and many community colleges.


NEA is the largest union in the United States, representing 3 million members nationwide. Our collective voice affords us the power and influence we exercise on behalf of each individual member.

Union Membership? Yes!
The quality of work life for an APA member is good. In order to sustain and build the strength of an employee community, it takes individuals dedicated to their profession and a union committed to represent its members both individually and collectively. Let’s continue to build a future for you, MSU and APA together.


The Big Event

Big Event

Dear Team MSU,


I would like to invite you and your family members to participate in “The Big Event” — an opportunity to celebrate the university’s 160th birthday and the extraordinary impact of our MSU employees. Without your commitment to quality, inclusiveness, and connectivity, Michigan State University would not be advancing knowledge and transforming lives. You play an integral role in our university’s international acclaim for its academic programs, services, research, and athletics.


We hope you will join us on Saturday, August 15, 2015, from 4:00 to 9:30 p.m., to celebrate your indispensable contributions to the continued success and inspiring legacy of Michigan State University.


The Big Event will have a variety of free family-friendly events to engage people of all ages. Here are a tentative schedule and list of activities:

  • 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.  – Swimming at IM West Pool
  • 4:00 to 6:30 p.m.  – Ice Skating at Munn Ice Arena
  • 4:00 to 6:45 p.m.  – Carnival at Pentecost Plaza at Old College Field – Inflatables, games, and concessions
  • 4:00 to 6:30 p.m.  – Be a Tourist at MSU – A unique opportunity to be bussed to different locations on campus that are not always readily accessible and get an inside-look at these spaces, as well as meet campus leaders. Tentative Be a Tourist stops include the following:
    • Spartan Stadium Tower
    • Breslin Center
    • Broad Art Museum
    • Beaumont Tower
    • Abrams Planetarium
    • Cowles House (The President’s residence)
    • WKAR media studio
  • 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.  – Concert/Entertainment at DeMartin Soccer Complex/Pentecost Plaza at Old College Field
  • 9:05 p.m.  – Fireworks 

To ensure the success of The Big Event, please RSVP here and take a few minutes to complete the brief survey no later than July 24, 2015.


Please call 517-355-6560 or email, if you require any special accommodations.


Thank you for your dedication and hard work! Again, we hope you will join us for this special day in Spartan history.


Spartans Will.


Lou Anna K. Simon, Ph.D.